A total of 2538 quarter milk samples from 638 lactating dairy cows from 47 farms in the canton of Bern, Switzerland, were investigated for streptococci. A novel, simple and inexpensive laboratory method was used for the differentiation of Streptococcus species, and a risk factor analysis was carried out. The prevalence in the quarter milk samples was 0.2 per cent for Streptococcus agalactiae, 1.3 per cent for Streptococcus uberis, 1.3 per cent for Streptococcus dysgalactiae, 0.1 per cent for Enterococcus species and 2.9 per cent for minor Streptococcus species (designated Streptococcus-Lactococcus-Enterococcus [SLE] group). Based on the somatic cell count (SCC), S uberis and S dysgalactiae were classified as ‘major’ pathogens and the bacteria in the SLE group as ‘minor’ pathogens. For S uberis, S dysgalactiae and bacteria in the SLE group, the most significant risk factor was an intramammary infection (IMI) of a neighbouring quarter by the same pathogen. Other significant risk factors for S uberis infection were a positive California Mastitis Test (CMT) result and a SCC of more than100,000 cells/ml. Significant risk factors for IMI with S dysgalactiae were a positive CMT result, teat injury and palpable abnormalities in the udder. Infection with bacteria in the SLE group was significantly associated with a SCC of more than 100,000 cells/ml, a lactation number of more than 2, the right rear quarter (as the location of infection) and a positive CMT result.
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